I don’t consider myself much of a poet, but I wrote some poems for Jonah when he was a baby, when I expected something far different than what my life has become…when I saw a path clearly before me and walked it with something like confidence…
…when I expected to be sitting in the bleachers now, cheering him on at his little league game. When I expected to be friends with other mothers whose kids played with and shared activites with Jonah. When I expected to be able to bring my son to a child’s birthday party and watch him scream with joy as all the candy came pouring out of the piñata, instead of hovering over him as he opened and closed the host’s sliding glass door incessantly.
Instead of taking him to the park by myself, pretending other parents and kids weren’t staring, wondering, maybe judging, but never approaching us except when some child would ask with curiousity, “Is he a baby?” or “why can’t he talk?” – and me choking on my tears as I tried to explain.
…instead of losing touch with most of my friends because I became a hermit and uncomfortable around (and often unfairly resented) NT families. And all this before any aggression and violence. And all that before checking myself into a mental health facility. And all that before making the decision to take him to live at a residential school. And all that before ending my marriage.
Do I sound like I feel sorry for myself? Sometimes I do. My therapist even gave me permission last night, so long as I don’t martyr myself or wallow. In 4 weeks my son will be gone and my legal separation will be taking place. Doc tells me I have osteoporosis with a lower vertebrae fracture. I’m waiting on results from two biopsies, can’t keep weight on, have this strange ringing in both my ears, and sleep as much as I possibly can. (I”m definitely not Darwin’s poster child). I’m so tired of crying and feeling anxious, missing parties and weddings and picnics I am invited to because I can’t bring myself to go; if anyone asked me anything at all about Jonah, I feel like I’d lose it and ruin all the fun. Plus for me right now there is nothing to celebrate except “I am doing the right thing” with Jonah, so people tell me.
Some people insist they couldn’t do it, “put their child away.” You can when you have to. You can do anything when you have to, I guess. I know this is just a hill I have to run up and over, but my legs are cramping and I have no breath. I don’t know what’s on the other side of the hill, and that scares me too. Weakling, a voice inside me whispers. Worthless. You are superflous now.
I’ve revisited my poems from Jonah’s babyhood, and I thought this one strangely prophetic:
I am your mother.
I may hold you clumsily close, my
sharp angles & skinny arms awkward,
but I hold you close anyway.
You find a comfort in my bones
as walls of a former residence;
as familiar pillars echoing womb whispers…
as fetal backdrop for acrobatic feats.
I may sing you nonsense, silly snippets
of all kinds of songs, lazily off-key
but I sing them to you anyway.
You find a diamond in my song
as the voice you heard awash, internal;
as divinity, a speaker in the sky…
as soundtrack to gestation’s miracle.
I may love you with a racing heartbeat
composed of odd & syncopated rhythms,
but I love you with every heartbeat anyway.
You find a living element in my love
as the cycling pulse of ocean tides;
as habitat for emotion magic, undefined…
as something inside you that can never die.
I will always be your mother.